Monday, April 23, 2018

Rant: Agave Reforestation & Saving Mezcal

When you harvest grapes to make wine, the vines survive and will continue to provide grapes for years to come. On the other hand, mezcal is a distilled spirit made from the agave plant, more commonly called maguey in Mexico, and when it is harvested, the entire plant is gone. You need to plant another maguey to replace it, to maintain sustainability. This is a vital issue with the mezcal industry, one which has received growing attention in recent years.  

One of the mezcal producers which is at the forefront of this matter is Pierde Almas. Their website states: "Pierde Almas is first and foremost a Socially, Culturally and Environmentally Responsible Company." They also create some amazing Mezcals, some of my favorites, including the Maguey de Lumbre, +9 Botanicals, and the Mezcal de Conejo.

In June, Pierde Almas will conduct their 9th Annual Agave Reforestation Program, where they help their Maestro Mezcaleros plant baby agaves in the wild hills of Oaxaca. Last year, the program, with volunteers from México, the U.S., and Europe, planted Tepextate, Tobaziche and Cirial Agaves in the foothills overlooking two different villages. Currently, 98% of those agaves are thriving.

This year, they intend on planting Tepextate and Tobalá in San Baltazar Guelavila and San Luis del Rio, but will also plant about 200 Tepehuaje trees in each village. Tepehuaje trees, native to the Sierra Madre, are sturdy, fast-growing trees which have been a traditional source of firewood for centuries. Resource management is key to community prosperity, so we decided this year to insert one Tepehuaje for every 5 Agaves planted. As the trees grow a little faster than the agaves, they will be ready to be used as firewood when the agaves are ready to be harvested.  Next year, their objective is to quadruple that amount.

If you are interested in this fascinating project, there are two dates to choose from, June 8th and 15th. There is space on each date for a group of twenty people. Aeroméxico has generously provided discounted airfares for all participants. They have also partnered with Hotel Los Pilares to get discounted rates at their beautiful and historical hotel, located in the beautiful Jalatlaco neighborhood in Oaxaca’s Centro Historico.

Pierde Almas will provide transportation to the fields, as well as a big lunch fiesta the day of the planting with Oaxacan music, great food and of course mezcal.

If you are interested please send an email to reforestacion@pierdealmas.com and request more information. Space is limited and will fill up quickly so contact them ASAP if interested.

Save the Maguey, Save the Mezcal!

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